The 2021-22 European season is approaching its halfway stage so now is as good a time as ever to review the best and worst performers of the campaign so far.
We have already chosen our Best XI of the season up until now, with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema and Thomas Muller all starring.
Now is the time for us to shame the high-profile players around the continent who have fallen well below the standards expected of them.
Below is FootballTransfers’ XI of the worst players in Europe in 2021/22.
FOOTBALLTRANSFERS’ MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS IN THE WORLD
GK: Pepe Reina (Lazio)
Lazio are searching for a new goalkeeper in the January transfer window and it’s all because of the horrendous form of Pepe Reina.
The 39-year-old has very much looked his age as Lazio have conceded a massive 34 goals in 19 Serie A games. You have to go down to 15th in the table to find a worst defence.
Reina has been guilty of a series of gaffes, including one of the most bizarre moments of the season in the 2-0 defeat at home to Juventus when he inexplicably just hauled down Federico Chiesa in the box for no apparent reason.
CB: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
There were already more than a few doubts over Sergio Ramos when he moved to PSG from Real Madrid on a free transfer this past summer.
Ramos had seen the second half of the 2020-21 season decimated by injuries and this had also resulted in him missing Euro 2020.
The first half of the current campaign has been even worse than even the biggest Ramos sceptics feared.
Due to injury he didn’t even make his PSG debut until November 28 and going into 2022 he has made just three appearances for his current club.
His time at PSG so far was perfectly summed up in the final game of the year as just 41 minutes after coming on as a substitute versus Lorient he was sent off. Given his €6 million-a-year wages, he has proven a colossal waste of money.
CB: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
The biggest flops in the Champions League group stage were undoubtedly Borussia Dortmund, who failed to qualify from a modest pool containing Ajax, Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas.
One of the reasons for this failure was Mats Hummels, who was guilty of making numerous errors for the Bundesliga side.
Dortmund conceded a whopping 11 goals in six games but Hummels has been just as poor during the Bundesliga campaign.
Now 33, the former Bayern Munich centre back is really showing his age.
CB: Harry Maguire (Man Utd)
Harry Maguire had perhaps been unfairly treated by the press and fans since his world record move for a defender to Man Utd in 2019.
And during Euro 2020, he was certainly one of the best defenders in the competition as England came runners-up.
However, the 28-year-old has endured a disastrous season so far from an individual point of view, being guilty for a catalogue of errors at home and abroad.
Indeed, at the beginning of November, we revealed that he had already been directly responsible for NINE goals that Man Utd had conceded in 2021-22.
Things have improved ever so slightly since Ralf Rangnick’s appointment but Maguire will be hoping that 2022 brings better fortunes.
RWB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man Utd)
It has been obvious since the day he signed over two years ago that Aaron Wan-Bissaka is not at the level required for a giant club like Man Utd.
But while in his first two seasons at Old Trafford, supporters of AWB could at least argue that he has been defensively sound, this term they can’t even cling to that.
For not only has Wan-Bissaka attacking qualities been non-existent as usual, his defending has been equally suspect. He has been out of position, failed to hold the defensive line, caught ball-watching and marked his opponents poorly.
This has all contributed to Man Utd’s atrocious defensive record this season and it came as no surprise when new manager Ralf Rangnick dropped him for Diogo Dalot.
CM: Gini Wijnaldum (PSG)
Barcelona were absolutely furious this past summer when, having agreed to sign Gini Wijnaldum on a free transfer from Liverpool, their deal was hijacked at the last minute by PSG.
Wijnaldum had been one of the most underrated players in Europe during his time at Liverpool and it was expected that he would help improve an area of the pitch that has been a problem for PSG in recent years.
However, the Dutchman has failed to settle and has looked a shadow of the player who played such an important role in Liverpool’s successes under Jurgen Klopp. He has struggled to nail down a first-team place – despite PSG lacking too many top players in his position – and has made just eight starts in Ligue 1. He has already been linked with a move away.
CM: Aaron Ramsey (Juventus)
Aaron Ramsey arrived at Juventus in the summer of 2019 on a free transfer from Arsenal but his time in Turin has, unsurprisingly, been plagued by injury problems.
This season has been a complete disaster as he made just one start and three appearances in Serie A. He has not played since the end of September and his situation has come to mirror that of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid, a Welshman seemingly only motivated for his country.
Juventus are desperate to sell Ramsey in January in order to get his €7m-a-year wages off their books and replace him with a better and fitter midfielder.
LM: Jack Grealish (Man City)
Overall this season, Jack Grealish has managed just three goals and three assists in 20 appearances for Man City – 17 of these being starts.
Considering the fact that Man City smashed the British transfer record this summer to sign Grealish for £100m, it is clear that these numbers are not worthy of this amount.
Grealish has struggled to express himself under Pep Guardiola, and there have been reports already that the pair don’t quite see eye to eye.
These rumours were given further fuel when Guardiola dropped Grealish and publicly rebuked him and teammate Phil Foden after they went out partying over the Christmas period.
CF: Lionel Messi (PSG)
It was the summer transfer that shocked the world of football; the biggest legend in the history of Barcelona joining PSG on a Bosman transfer.
Lionel Messi was expected to take Ligue 1 by storm; remember this is a championship that has been cruelly derided for years by critics as a ‘Farmer’s League’.
However, the Argentine superstar has struggled badly and as we go into the new year he has incredibly only scored a single Ligue 1 goal.
Although he has fared better in the Champions League, this is not what is expected of the current Ballon d’Or holder as PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino has found it impossible to fit three individual superstars in Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe into a cohesive unit.
CF: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Manchester City were very public in their desire to sign Harry Kane this past summer in a €100m-plus deal and it was a transfer that the striker was desperate to make.
However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would not sell, even reportedly refusing to pick up the phone to hear Man City’s offer.
This led to the attacker allegedly not turning up for training for the best part of a week, although the Euro 2020 star denies he refused to train.
Whatever, the truth, Kane has not been the same player since. He has just two goals and one assist in the Premier League this season. Even the appointment of Antonio Conte hasn’t resurrected him yet, although he did score and play well in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool
CF: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal
Arsenal have transfer listed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a series of disciplinary problems.
Aubameyang is alleged to have repeatedly turned up late to work commitments and this led to him this month being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and frozen out of the squad.
The 32-year-old has just four goals in 14 Premier League appearances this season and is not justifying his astronomical salary of £13m a year.
Indeed, Arsenal appear to be much better and more together without him.